By Julie Clack
This spring, Emeritus professor Angel Loureiro published his first novel, titled “El mundo ciego.” The story follows two women, Marta and Alicia, who meet in Madrid and decide to spend a weekend hiking in the mountains in northern Spain.
Marta, a translator, was suddenly left by her husband a few months earlier. Alicia, a few years younger than Marta, is a former drug addict who never finished her studies in philosophy and works as an assistant for the lawyer who is helping Marta with her divorce.
In the two and a half days chronicled in the story, the two women talk about their pasts and their families. Free from the obligations of marriage, Marta decides to carry out her dormant plan of rewriting traditional children stories, and throughout the weekend finds inspiration and ideas for her project. Alicia, restless and daring, lightens up Marta's creative imagination, and also forces her to face desires that she has so far repressed.
Although the novel is entirely fictional, Loureiro drew from his own experiences for elements of the story. “I think it is impossible to write fiction without resorting to personal experiences in one way or another,” he said. “Although they are not necessarily central to [“El mundo ciego’s] plot, I incorporated some personal experiences, and also stories from many others, such as my family and friends or events in the lives of strangers that impressed me as a child.”
Another source of inspiration for Loureiro was identical to Marta's idea about rewriting traditional children stories. “Throughout the novel Marta imagines three stories, all of them variations on ‘Little Red Riding Hood.’ In them, the wolf takes unexpected shapes, and its prey is never an innocent woman. Desire and imagination become fused in the novel, to the point that at its conclusion literature and life turn out to be indistinguishable.”
The book has been praised widely by the Spanish literary community. Writer Belén Gopegui stated that Loureiro’s writing “is free, dangerous and surprising, as any true conversation always is.”
For his part, Antonio Muñoz Molina, an author who has received all major Spanish literary prizes, observed: “Angel Loureiro has written a novel in which are present the seduction of images and words, as well as the concretion of the natural world... a subtle self-examination and a search for wisdom.”
And Valerie Miles, director of the Spanish version of the journal Granta, wrote that “El mundo ciego” “is fresh, ingenious and intelligent. A sensual and provocative view that shows the beautiful and the terrible, the violence of men, the transformation of women."
Loureiro has already completed a second novel and is currently at work on his third. “Writing was always in my blood, but professional obligations and personal insecurities about writing led me to postpone writing until I realized that it was now or never,” he said. He began working on “El mundo ciego” in the summer a few years before he set his retirement date.
“More than any aspiration to success — and in any case it is too late for that — writing has become for me a necessity that keeps my mind active and alert. It also provides structure in my life, and although on many days it is very frustrating, on many others it gives me the satisfaction and surprise of creating something seemingly out of nothing.”